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After 27 years MEDCO continues economic growth in Marshall

When it was first established in 1991, the Marshall Economic Development Corporation (MEDCO) was developed to aid the city in a time of high need.

“Unemployment was at a high of 8.8 percent and climbing. There was the war in Kuwait and times were hard,” Executive Director of MEDCO Donna Maisel said. “The local economy in Marshall was tough and the community didn’t have a way to step out and try to promote the community on a national and international level.

“We were created to address the individual needs and concerns (of the city) and find a way to market our community to those needs and concerns (of outside industries),” Maisel said. “(We were created) by public vote. There was state legislation passed prior to 1991 allowing for local sales tax dollars to be used for local recruitment of business and industry in the community.”

The first recruitment, Maisel recalled, was that of Texas State Technical College (TSTC).

“At the time there was no avenue to open up another campus in the state,” Maisel said. “The community all came together-the same community leaders and city and chamber members who created MEDCO and promoted the creation of MEDCO … MEDCO was the mechanism by which we were able to accomplish TSTC coming to Marshall.”

Though today MEDCO is housed on the TSTC campus, at the time of the TSTC acquisition, MEDCO was located on the square in downtown Marshall.

“Through the TSTC project and a joint grant, which included MEDCO the city SWEPCO US department of Commerce, there was a grant for the (current) building as an incubator at TSTC,” Maisel said. “As soon as this building was built, MEDCO moved its office into the building. The building was originally designed to be high tech and had all of the latest technology and tools … just recently over the past three years, all of that technology has been updated. We have seven networks in the building and are further recruiting other technology companies.”

Recruiting

Maisel describes MEDCO’s mission is to establish a richer economic base for Marshall through the recruitment of new and valuable business and industry assets.

“What we want to do is expand what we have here with additional businesses and activities to make sure we have a very diverse local economy. We’ve done a pretty good job in that in the past; the community is pretty diverse. When one sector of the economy might be down, another might be up. That’s one of the reasons you don’t see a huge up and down in our economy when compared to the local economy. Yes, we have fluctuations, but they’re not near as severe as other places.

“Sectors we look to recruit from are manufacturing, further diversifying our base here in Marshall. We have a great avenue for networking in our local manufacturing council – that is a great recruitment tool because industries understand each other’s needs. When there is synergy and they can help each other out – that is a strength. We also recruit in the natural resources industry: natural gas, mining minerals and water. One of the things that is great about our community is we have one of the lowest electrical rates in the nation; that is a major factor and a major cost. When they can save money in that sector it really gets their attention.”

Maisel said when looking to recruit businesses, Maisel said MEDCO isn’t shy about marketing Marshall’s many strengths.

“We market our major strength outside of our community: transportation, the available work force in the region, and natural resources including water, timber and agriculture,” Maisel said. “When you are out there promoting Marshall, you are promoting it first and pulling from the resources of the region.

“Before we were created, there was no tool to do targeted, planned development in Marshall,” Maisel said. “The city had zoning, but there was nothing to recruit and say we was to bring tax dollars into here – not just re-use whatever we have.”

Attractiveness

Maisel said the courtship procee for each business and industry was a two-way street.

“Key things we ask ourselves when looking at a business is what does it bring to the table, have they been in business elsewhere and do they have a good track record? But, just as we are evaluating them – they are evaluating us. It is important for us to have a good public image of our community … they look to see if everybody works together, do they support each other, does everybody work together. Do they support each other, do they support their industry?” Maisel said.

Maisel outlined several marketable factors that make Marshall attractive to industries: transportation, cooperation and workforce.

“One of the key things that makes Marshall attractive to business and industry is that we are along a major north, south, east west transportation corridor,” Maisel said. “And that is key for industry to be along a major transportation corridor and have easy access on and off and be able to get from one place to another quickly.”

Maisel said every facet of Marshall from the schools to the city and all the businesses and residents in between add to the attractiveness of Marshall to potential business and industry suitors.

“The key thing for Marshall is it is a cooperative effort. All of the major entities that support our community – the city, the county, MEDCO, work force training and the colleges, all come together to support the growth of our community and we network together to resolve issues. The way we present ourselves together on the national front is a huge recruitment tool because not every community has that … it’s a growth process, but we’re making great strides.”

But all of Marshall’s other attributes come secondary it is greatest asset, Maisel said.

“The one thing now that we are seeing as the most important thing is the workforce: workforce training, skills and the availability of the number of people in the area to fulfill those needs,” Maisel said. “Marshall has an excellent labor force. One thing we are finding fro industries here is that they are a very dedicated labor force. That is one of the strengths we promote for our community to potential business and industry: our workers take ownership and pride in the business, which you don’t find just anywhere.